THE POISON GARDEN website      Arum maculatum berries on a Cannabis leaf 

Search thepoisongarden.co.uk:

This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Saturday 28th January 2012

If you’ve come to this page directly, you may not realise that this the second part of a two part analysis of ‘Drug Legalisation: An Evaluation of the Impacts on Global Society’ described as a ‘Position Statement’ and appearing on The International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy (ITFSDP) website.

That first part looked at the first two pages of the statement and though this second part will, again, draw attention to flawed logic, unevidenced claims and circular contradictions within the document, I think it is worth looking at them individually rather than just saying pages three to six contain more of the same.

For example, writing ‘it is alleged, in contradiction to evidence, that prohibition has produced more costs’ without demonstrating what this evidence is means nothing. We’re expected to take the word of an unnamed author. Only those who are already fully signed up to the prohibition agenda would do that and there is really little point in ‘preaching to the choir’.

‘It is further argued irrationally that police time would not be wasted on minor drug offences’

Can anyone tell me what is irrational about saying that, if there is no such thing as a ‘minor drug offence’ then the police cannot waste time on minor drug offences?

I mentioned, yesterday, that this document seeks to make it seem as though those calling for reform are extraordinarily well-funded and I pointed out that Melanie Phillips had made a ridiculous claim about a 'trillion dollar campaign'.

Today, thanks to @AlexStevensKent, I heard David Raynes on a recent BBC Radio5 Live programme making a very similar claim. It does seem that those supporting the status quo have decided that this red herring may help their case.

(Incidentally, Raynes completed misrepresented the Hughes/Stevens paper on Portugal.)

But, on page 3, the statement goes from being funny to being offensive. Three possible definitions of ‘legalisation’ are given but, instead of examining the difference between these three definitions, the document simply treats all three as one when it comes to parroting what these definitions are supposed to mean. It says ‘To achieve the agenda of drug legalisation, advocates argue for’ and gives a list of alleged arguments. These include;

'• an inclusion of drug users as equal partners in establishing and enforcing drug policy; and
• protection for drug users at the expense and to the detriment of non-users under the
pretense of “human rights.”'

Obviously, in the world of the supporters of this ‘Position Statement’ drug users are second class citizens or worse who should have no say in how their drug use is regulated and who do not deserve ‘human rights’. That is the sort of attitude to drug users that sees no harm in the use of the death penalty to deal with drug offences.

Happily, the statement moves from offensive back to confused by equating the harm caused by drugs with the harm caused by prohibition. It then has another internally illogical moment by stating that the UN conventions allow for medicinal use of the scheduled substances. This after previously saying that one of the tactics of reformers is to argue in favour of ‘legalising marijuana and other illicit drugs as a so-called medicine’.

The statement moves on to try and argue for the present regime but it does so with many baseless assertions and quite a few illogical claims. In suggesting that prohibition works, it chooses dates for comparisons that fit its point and claims that opium production has fallen since 2008 completely ignoring the growth before then and completely ignoring the effect of disease in Afghanistan on output in 2010. And it claims that HIV/AIDs would increase when all the evidence is that regulated supply of heroin reduces infection via shared needles.

I’ve said before that it is flawed to look at the illicit substances separately from the licit. The statement claims that ‘legalisation’ would increase the number of road accidents and accidents at work, because of increased drug use. That may be possible, though it requires one to accept the suggestion that drug use would increase, but the need is to assess what the effect would be of substitution from alcohol to other substances to see if a reduction in drunk driving would more than offset any increase in driving under the effects of other substances.

Then there is the claim;

‘Legalisation would not take the profit out of the drug trade as criminals will always
find ways of countering legislation. They would continue their dangerous activities
including cutting drugs with harmful substances to maximise sales and profits.’

As we know from recent incidents in India, people will produce cheap alcohol to supply those who can’t afford legally available booze. But, clearly, anyone who could afford properly produced, known strength, drugs would not buy unknown quality products and anyone looking to provide adulterated products to poorer consumers could not make the same profits they do today.

There is, as you would expect, a lot of cherry-picking. There are claims about how research is showing the long-term detrimental effects of drug use but no mention of research suggesting that there may be no long-term harm and, possibly, some benefit of moderate use.

Then there is another strawman argument;

‘It is inaccurate to suggest that the personal use of drugs has no consequential and
damaging effects.’

I know no reformer who claims that all personal use is harmless. There can be consequential and harmful effects for those whose use is out of control but you don’t reduce the problems of that very small minority by criminalising the vast majority. Expecting that strawman to stand, the statement goes on;

'Apart from the harm to the individual users, drugs affect others by addiction, violence, criminal behaviour and road accidents.'

If personal drug use is not criminal, then the amount of ‘criminal behaviour’ associated with it will be significantly reduced.

Just occasionally, there is a factually correct statement but the logical conclusion to be drawn from it is ignored. Saying;

‘All drugs can be dangerous including prescription and over the counter medicines if
they are taken without attention to medical guidance.’

Should lead the reader to the conclusion that not being able to offer usage guidance for substances like ecstasy or cocaine because these substances are illegal is the way to make their use more dangerous.

There’s another example with;

‘Drug production causes huge ecological damage and crop erosion in drug producing
Areas’

Is perfectly true but so does all agricultural production if it is uncontrolled. Making the growing of Papaver somniferum, opium poppies, or Cannabis sativa, marijuana, legitimate means that proper land management techniques can be applied so that ecological damage would be reduced.

The penultimate paragraph repeats the point made on page 1 that the existing regime is based on UN conventions inferring that this means they can never be changed.

But, the final paragraph demonstrates the key divide between prohibitionists and reformers because it begins with a sentence to which both groups would agree;

‘Any government policy must be motivated by the consideration that it must first do
no harm.’

The problem comes in that reformers are convinced that the existing regime is doing a great deal of harm. Based on this ‘Position Statement’, it is clear that prohibitionists don’t believe that to be the case but they have not found an author who can cogently argue that no harm results from the current regime.

 

Full Entries

2016

Tuesday 25th October 2016
Saturday 20th August 2016
Sunday 6th March 2016
Wednesday 3rd February 2016

2015

Saturday 28th November 2015
Friday 27th November 2015
Monday 17th August 2015
Wednesday 15th July 2015
Friday 26th June 2015
Thursday 25th June 2015
Thursday 30th April 2015
Wednesday 29th April 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Tuesday 3rd March 2015
Saturday 28th February 2015
Sunday 22nd February 2015

November 2014

Monday 24th November 2014
Saturday 8th November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

Wednesday 24th September 2014
Monday 1st September 2014

August 2014

Tuesday 26th August 2014
Saturday 16th August 2014
Tuesday 5th August 2014
Friday 1st August 2014

July 2014

Sunday 27th July 2014
Wednesday 23rd July 2014
Sunday 13th July 2014
Sunday 6th July 2014
Tuesday 1st July 2014

June 2014

Wednesday 25th June 2014
Tuesday 24th June 2014
Sunday 22nd June 2014
Monday 9th June 2014
Wednesday 4th June 2014

May 2014

Monday 26th May 2014
Sunday 18th May 2014
Wednesday 14th May 2014

April 2014

Sunday 13th April 2014
Saturday 5th April 2014
Thursday 3rd April 2014
Tuesday 1st April 2014

March 2014

Monday 31st March 2014
Tuesday 25th March 2014
Friday 21st March 2014
Monday 17th March 2014
Sunday 16th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Thursday 6th March 2014
Wednesday 5th March 2014
Saturday 1st March 2014

February 2014

Thursday 27th February 2014
Monday 24th February 2014
Wednesday 19th February 2014
Monday 17th February 2014
Thursday 13th February 2014
Monday 4th February 2014
Monday 3rd February 2014
Saturday 1st February 2014

January 2014

Thursday 28th January 2014
Thursday 23rd January 2014
Friday 17th January 2014
Wednesday 15th January 2014
Monday 13th January 2014
Thursday 9th January 2014
Tuesday 7th January 2014
Wednesday 1st January 2014

December 2013

Monday 23rd December 2013
Friday 20th December 2013
Tuesday 17th December 2013
Friday 14th December 2013
Thursday 12th December 2013
Sunday 8th December 2013
Wednesday 4th December 2013
Sunday 1st December 2013

November 2013

Friday 29th November 2013
Wednesday 27th November 2013
Tuesday 26th November 2013
Friday 22nd November 2013
Monday 18th November 2013
Friday 15th November 2013
Thursday 14th November 2013
Sunday 10th November 2013
Thursday 7th November 2013
Wednesday 6th November 2013
Friday 1st November 2013

October 2013

Thursday 31st October 2013
Sunday 27th October 2013
Wednesday 23rd October 2013
Monday 21st October 2013
Friday 18th October 2013
Friday 11th October 2013
Wednesday 9th October 2013
Tuesday 8th October 2013
Monday 7th October 2013
Tuesday 1st October 2013

September 2013

Monday 30th September 2013
Saturday 28th September 2013
Friday 27th September 2013
Monday 23rd September 2013
Sunday 15th September 2013
Monday 9th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

August 2013

Sunday 8th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

Tuesday 27th August 2013
Sunday 25th August 2013
Monday 19th August 2013
Friday 16th August 2013
Tuesday 13th August 2013
Friday 9th August 2013
Friday 2nd August 2013
Thursday 1st August 2013

July 2013

Saturday 27th July 2013
Sunday 21st July 2013
Wednesday 17th July 2013
Monday 15th July 2013
Saturday 13th July 2013
Friday 12th July 2013
Thursday 11th July 2013
Wednesday 10th July 2013
Tuesday 9th July 2013
Saturday 6th July 2013

June 2013

Friday 28th June 2013
Tuesday 25th June 2013
Friday 21st June 2013
Thursday 20th June 2013
Wednesday 19th June 2013
Saturday 15th June 2013
Sunday 9th June 2013
Saturday 8th June 2013
Saturday 1st June 2013
 

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012 blog

June 2012 blog

May 2012 blog

April 2012 blog

March 2012 blog

February 2012 blog

January 2012 blog

December 2011 blog

November 2011 blog

October 2011 blog

September 2011 blog

August 2011 blog

July 2011 blog

June 2011 blog



IMPORTANT NOTE

The POISON GARDEN website is not connected with Alnwick Garden Enterprises Ltd and/or The Alnwick Garden Trust.